Call it an explanation, a reversal, an apology —whatever you like— but Kyrie Irving laid out the rationale behind his post-games comments Wednesday, comments that appeared to diss some teammates and suggest the Nets had “glaring,” “transparent” issues that were holding them back from championship contention.
Irving told reporters that he had explained to his team what he meant by the comments and didn’t mean to single anybody out by listing core players. And he admitted that yes, he probably should have/could have added a few more names to his list.
“I reached out to make sure nothing was taken out of context — making sure that the guys knew exactly what I meant,” Irving said. “And that is the only thing that matters. Everyone can say, if I was in this position, ‘I would’ve said this, I would’ve done this.’ They have have no idea because they’ve never been at this level, so how could you even comment on it?”
“The most important thing is making sure these guys — they have the belief in themselves and I continue to reiterate that confidence we have as a team. It is going to come down to that in order to be at a championship level to compete against the West, we need more. It is what it is.”
Irving said his only purpose was to push things forward, improve the team.
“There’s still more goals I want to accomplish in this league and I can’t do that without improving an organization and winning a championship and that’s what it comes down to,” explained Irving who has an NBA ring, an Olympic gold medal and FIBA World Cup gold medal.
“I’m going to continue to push, I’m going to continue to demand greatness out of myself and demand greatness out of my teammates,” he continued. “It’s not like I’m an ass---- yelling at everybody in the freaking locker room all the time ... If it’s harsh as a leader or if it’s too much for anybody, you’re not in our locker room—stay the f—k out.”
Making the playoffs as a seventh or eighth seed, he said, was not his goal. It’s bigger than that.
“I think when we have championship aspirations,” Irving said. “Do we want to be the eighth seed going into the playoffs? The seventh seed? But you’re able to be real with the team that you have here and you’re able to collectively, cohesively come together as a group. That is what you figure out. But the goals are still to win a championship. I don’t come in every day to frickin’ be mediocre or to be in the middle of the standings.”
Irving’s teammates —and his coach— have to a man praised his leadership abilities. As for criticism that he’s a bad leader, he said all he can do is “continue to be a pillar in our locker room.”
- Kyrie Irving talked to teammates after listing pillars of Nets’ future - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- Kyrie Irving doubles down on Nets needs with ‘stay the f–k out’ stance - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving defends his leadership: ‘If you’re not in our locker room, stay the f--- out’ - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Kyrie clarifies comments to teammates, Nets brass - Mike Mazzeo - Newsday
- Kyrie Irving defends himself, Nets roster comment: ‘It’s not like I’m an a—hole yelling at everybody’ - Coby Green - SNY
- The latest Kyrie Irving kerfuffle shows the challenge he faces in shaking his reputation - Mike Lee - The Athletic NBA